Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy (1951-2015)

Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy was a cherished member of the Harriman Institute, Columbia University, and Barnard College communities since she enrolled as a doctoral student in Columbia’s Slavic Department in 1973. Nepomnyashchy was the first woman to direct the Harriman Institute (2001 – 2009), and was honored as the Institute's Alumna of the Year in 2012. During her eight years as Director of the Harriman Institute, Nepomnyashchy broadened the Institute’s scope in the areas of culture, literature, and the arts. Nepomnyashchy joined the Barnard College faculty in 1987, and became Chair of the Barnard Slavic Department in 2000 and Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Russian Literature and Culture in 2003. A groundbreaking scholar who wrote the first comprehensive book on the Abram Tertz works of Russian dissident writer Andrei Sinyavsky (Abram Tertz and the Poetics of Crime, 1995) and co-edited with Nicole Svobodny and Ludmilla Trigos the first-ever English-language volume on the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s African heritage (Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and Blackness, 2006), she was known for exploring topics—such as Russian chat rooms that focus on the English writer Jane Austen and President Vladimir Putin’s fashion choices—that fell outside the conventional boundaries of Slavic studies. [Read a profile of her in Harriman Magazine].